Across all fifty states, Americans eat a lot of imported foods. How much? Up to 15%, according to the FDA. And demand is rising, with plant proteins, seafood, new kinds of fruit and veg, and simple ingredients like spices and coconut milk making their way into American kitchens. More and more, US wholesale buyers of bulk ingredients must look across the Atlantic to keep up with consumer demand, exposing themselves to higher and higher risk.
The problem is compliance gaps start popping up in the global distribution chain since countries of origin lie outside the jurisdiction of agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This is where everyone at Ingredient Brothers strives to bring value. We are one of only 22 US Agents and Brokers certified against the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS) – a food safety certification program benchmarked against the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards. That means every last ingredient in our long catalog is exquisitely documented and 100% traceable. That takes some of the burden off our customers to ensure that their products meet the highest standards of safety, integrity, legality, and quality. It’s our way of being the change we want to see in the food industry.
Product recall and traceability – two peas in a pod of the same problem
Product recall and traceability are closely related because they manage risks in response to food safety events and emergencies. Also, both are key ingredients of any food safety system and in tackling the problem of maintaining the integrity of the food supply chain.
Product recalls address safety concerns as they emerge, but traceability empowers businesses to proactively oversee and reduce these recalls by identifying vulnerabilities within their distribution networks. Enhancing traceability within distribution chains makes it easier to pinpoint the source of food safety or quality issues, decreasing the likelihood of product recalls. Ultimately this decreases the likelihood of product recalls, so let’s explore how BRCGS improves this.
How do BRCGS policies improve the traceability of imported bulk ingredients?
Ingredient Brothers maintains a rigorous traceability system based on the standard of BRCGS. For instance, when we source spices from various countries, part of our supplier approval process is the verification of the traceability program of the supplier.
Where the supplier is certificated to a GFSI-benchmarked standard such as BRCGS, FSSC 22000, SQF, etc., there is no need to assess traceability systems since this is already a part of these audits. For suppliers with no GFSI-benchmarked certification, we assess and verify their traceability systems.
In the event of food quality and safety issues, we can quickly identify the source. This transparency boosts confidence in ingredient safety and quality throughout the supply chain, which is vital to our reputation and regulatory compliance.
What are the BRCGS guidelines for Agents and Brokers regarding traceability?
The standard requires the agents and brokers to establish a traceability system at all process stages. This system should be able to identify:
- The last manufacturer or place of last significant change (e.g. the last processor, packer, or consolidation point of bulk raw materials)
- The customers to whom each batch of product has been supplied.
- Steps or processes for which the company has responsibility, such as subcontracted facilities
As a BRC-certified company, we must verify our suppliers’ traceability systems annually.
How does BRCGS improve product recall procedures for imported bulk ingredients?
BRCGS certification mandates businesses to establish and maintain a documented product recall procedure. It covers crucial areas such as a clear definition of a recall, a designated recall team with defined roles, a system for identifying and notifying affected customers, tracking recalled products, and a process for disposing of them.
What advantages does a thorough product recall process offer? It guarantees swift and well-structured reactions during emergencies, shields consumers from harm, complies with regulatory mandates, minimizes damage to reputation, lowers expenses related to recalls, strengthens supply chain robustness, mitigates legal obligations, and enhances brand trustworthiness.
What are the BRCGS guidelines for product recalls?
The BRCGS provides a best practice guideline for product recall. This guideline provides practical guidance and advice on handling product safety issues. The standard is flexible enough for businesses of all sizes to develop effective recall procedures.
The BRC Global Standard for Agents and Brokers requires that businesses have a documented product recall procedure
- A clear definition of what constitutes a recall
- A designated recall team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities
- A system for identifying and notifying affected customers
- A system for tracking recalled products
- A process for disposing of recalled products
- An up-to-date list of key contacts (e.g. suppliers, customers, certification body and regulatory authority)
- A communication plan for the info dissemination to customers and regulatory body
- A plan to conduct root cause analysis and to implement ongoing corrective action
- A plan to record the key activities during the recall
The growing demand for imported foods in the United States has amplified the need for robust food safety measures. As imported foods become a bigger portion of Americans’ consumption, compliance gaps and challenges arise as these products traverse the global distribution chain.
Partnering with stakeholders with GFSI-benchmarked certification removes the burden of ensuring that your products meet the highest standards of safety, authenticity, legality, and quality. Chat with us to explore how BRCGS standards can protect your brand and boost your reputation in the food industry. In the meantime, sive into our catalog, and you’ll discover an assortment of options, each carefully selected to elevate your products!
What is the BRCGS certification?
BRCGS certification is an international food safety standard proving a company’s obsession with industry best practices in the food and beverage industry. Fun fact: BRC Global Standard for Agents and Brokers is the only GFSI-recognised standard designed for companies operating as agents or brokers in the food supply chain.
What does the BRCGS standard stand for?
BRCGs stands for British Retail Consortium Global Standard. The organization based in London provides international standards on quality and safety across industries using protocols and guidelines. Those guidelines are crucial to preserving the health and safety of food supplies from consumers to brands and consumers alike.
What’s the difference between BRCGS and FSMA?
FSMA and BRCGS are important food safety regulations but differ in scope, approach, enforcement, requirements, and auditing. While FSMA is a US law that applies to all food products sold in the US, BRCGS is a global standard for food manufacturers and suppliers worldwide. BRCGS certification can complement the requirements of FSMA and provide additional benefits, such as access to global markets, enhanced brand reputation, improved safety, compliance with distributor requirements, and reduced risk of recalls.